As published in Entrepreneur
It’s no secret that marketers are struggling to adapt to a tech-heavy, algorithmic-driven marketing landscape. Adapt or die is what technologists tell marketers, revealing a thinly veiled disdain for the very marketing customers they sell to.
Yet technologists seem blind to the current, impractical and fragmented state of advertising tech buoyed by the media who are far more interested in covering its superstars than in delving into the dark side of that world. The evidence is mounting that advertising tech is, to a stunning degree, failing consumers most dreadfully. Consumers are responding to the digital advertising deluge by adopting advertising blocking services in droves, with usage up 41 percent worldwide and 48 percent in the U.S., according to an Adobe & Pagefair Aug 2015 study.
While technologists created disruptive advertising tech to curry favor with investors who love algorithms and big data, their disruptions wreaked havoc across a wide swath of the general population:
- Venture capital value scale ventures like Uber or Facebook use lots of tech instead of lots of people. Today, Facebook, with 53,200 employees, has a bigger market cap than General Electric with their workforce of 300,000. Perversely, the less jobs an advertising tech venture creates, the more financial markets value the venture. Despite Facebook’s noteworthy philanthropy or Uber’s genuinely useful platform, it can’t compensate for the loss of meaningful employment for tens of thousands of everyday folks.
- Advertisers are spending more on digital advertising but are getting less value for their money than ever before. According to Google, 56 percent of digital advertising is never seen by real people and advertising tech fees are 50 percent or more of advertising budgets. Inevitably these higher costs will make their way into the prices we pay for products.
- Many artists, musicians and videographers (“content creators” in advertising tech lingo) have seen their potential earnings plummet in the last five years. Sure, there are some superstars who master viral content designed only to gain eyeballs. But generally speaking, artists have a hard time scratching out an honorable living because it’s too hard to get discovered amidst all the low quality content online already.
Advertising tech’s unbridled growth has reached toxicity levels that is a most alarming development for marketers because its clumsy treatment of digital audiences has poisoned the Internet.
Now, marketers are taking control through their advertising tech purchase choices before it’s too late. No longer will advertisers passively accept that digital scale must mean digital fraud. Nor will they blindly believe a platform’s promises of engagement without meaningful measurement.
Going forward, a new marketing sensibility will focus on creating mutually beneficial experiences between advertisers and audiences by adapting, adjusting and activating advertising tech in fundamentally different ways than today.
Demands for quality digital advertising
Digital advertising has become a tech-tangle of advertising networks, platforms and algorithms that’s really hard to manage. Platforms promise to deliver billions of impressions but impressions can’t buy. Therefore, advertisers are demanding a new level of transparency from advertising tech so they can understand where advertising is running and who is really being reached. Scale is taking on a marketing definition to mean smaller but high-quality, verified audiences.
Shift to the trust net
It’s infuriating when platforms pretend to give you choice, like those insidious user agreements where you must give up all your contact info to use the app. Advertising tech’s heavy-handed approach to user experiences will be replaced with more nuanced, marketing-centric user experience that respects people’s choices and people’s data — for real.
Marketers are already shunning cookies and backing away from advertising networks with questionable audiences. They are now demanding newer, contextual technologies that let them be relevant and welcome by users once again.
Focus on the real prize
For decades, the art of marketing reigned supreme, unchallenged, creating advertising designed to move audiences. But starting around 2009, the science of marketing overwhelmed the business with a tidal fury of ventures funded by an almost endless supply of venture capital money. In the deluge, the art of marketing nearly drowned in the sea of appi-fied everything impressions. But now the tide is turning and marketers are reintroducing the artistry needed to create tech-based marketing experiences that can power real connections between audiences and brands.
What happens next in advertising tech will be driven by marketing geeks who understand that respecting consumers is how to truly unleash its power.
And that will be the ultimate revenge.